UN-Habitat to Assist Poor and Vulnerable Communities in Myanmar with Funding Support from the Government of Japan

Naw Pyi Taw, 19 March 2015  The Government of Japan, and four UN agencies,namely  UN-Habitat, UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF signed and exchanged notes  at a ceremony today in Naw Pyi Taw in the presence of Myanmar’s Deputy Minister for Border Affairs H.E Major General Tin Aung Chit, and Deputy Minister for Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development H.E Dr Aung Myat Oo.

UN-Habitat will assist vulnerable communities on reconstructing community infrastructure in ethnic minority areas, and in low cost housing in Yangon region with a grant contribution of JPY 631,000,000 by the Government of Japan.IMG_5261

The project has the specific objective of assisting vulnerable communities, mostly women and children, to respond to unexpected disasters through all project activities, promoting active participation of women, recovery of conflict and disaster affected communities’ and providing  a safer and healthy environment for children. The project will support most vulnerable urban poor families in low-cost housing in Yangon and will assist conflict affected communities in restoration of community infrastructure in Mansi and Momauk Townships (Kachin State) and Pekkon Township (Shan State) through the ‘ people’s process.’

UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager, Bijay Karmacharya, explained that the Programme for Emergency Assistance to Poor and Vulnerable Community in Ethnic Minority Areas and Yangon is framed within the overall objective of helping Myanmar’s poor and vulnerable communities affected by conflicts and natural disasters to address the emergency needs to restore a normal life and to sustainably improve the quality of life.

The project  will help conflict affected communities in Kachin State and impoverished communities in Shan State by supporting them to reconstruct community infrastructure to enhance social and economic connectivity.

Furthermore, the project will support vulnerable communities living in poor housing conditions in disaster prone areas of Yangon where safety and living conditions of mainly women and children are improved with better housing conditions.

The project for emergency IMG_5269assistance is expected to benefit over 65,000 poor and vulnerable people.

Communities in Myanmar have been experiencing a series of socio economic setbacks due to conflicts, repeated natural disasters and extreme weather conditions. Over half a million people have been displaced due to conflict alone as of September 2014. In Kachin State nearly 100,000 people currently remain displaced from their homes and are accommodated in over 150 different locations and host communities; over 50 per cent are housed in camps located in areas beyond government control.

The commercial capital, Yangon and home to 5.8 million people, suffers from a multitude of natural hazards such as floods, cyclones and storm surge, fire, and earthquakes that have adversely affected a large number of poor and vulnerable communities. It is also observed that 34.5 percent of the houses in Yangon are semi-permanent and 3.4% houses are with temporary structures. There are an estimated 40,000 households living in squatter conditions in which housing represents the worst condition. People living in these houses are frequently affected by floods exposing especially children to health hazards.

The Government of Japan is one of the strongest development partners of UN-Habitat; it has assisted vulnerable communities and supported over half a million ethnic people in Myanmar with its grant assistance over the last three years in a similar project.